New Year’s Morning 1778

Psalm 71 9 New Year
Psalm 71:9
Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. [1]
1778 Jan 1 subject
Diary 1 January 1778:
‘This morning I preached with liberty, on a subject which now begins to become my own.
Advanced far in my 53 year I may well think myself verging to old age.
The season when creature comforts drop away in succession, and the relish of those which remain grow daily fainter…’
This petition begins to be suitable to many of us.
1. It implies:
  1.1 The aged believer has no additional claim upon God in himself. When he first came, the Lord might have rejected him – and now at last he may cast him off – for any plea he can urge, but mere mercy. He is still an unprofitable servant, and can only say, Enter not into judgement. [2]
  1.2 By the time he enters upon old age, painful experience teaches him the need of such a prayer.
    1.2.1 As his graces are still imperfect, his powers are feelingly upon the decline. It was but little he could do at the best, but now less and less.
    1.2.2 He feels other props and comforts dropping off apace. When he was young he had warm spirits and pleasing prospects. But O the change. The friends in which he once delighted – in some key has found inconstancy – others have successively been taken away by death – they have fallen like the leaves in autumn, and now he stands like a naked trunk, if any remain, he is expecting to lose them likewise, except he is himself taken from them.
    1.2.3 Old age lessens the relish of such earthly comforts as might be otherwise enjoyed. See Ecclesiastes 12; [3] 2 Samuel 19:34, 35. [4] Pains, infirmities, loss of sleep and appetite. Now if he be not comforted from the Lord, he can expect [nothing] elsewhere.
      How miserable is a wicked old age. O if you are rejoicing in youth and strength, yet remember evil days will be with you.
    1.2.4 Old age is a sure forerunner of death. Youth has no security – age has no possibility of escaping. But though friends fail, cisterns burst, gourds wither, strength declines and death advances. Do not thou cast me off, and all is well.
2. This is not a helpless cry – but the prayer of faith, founded upon a sure premise.
  Psalm 71 9 not helpless
  The Lord will not cast off his people. See Psalm 48:14; [5] Isaiah 46:3; [6] Psalm 73:26. [7]
  2.1 He will own the covenant relation to the last.
  2.2 He will make up for all losses and changes better than ten sons. [8]
  2.3 He will give strength according to the day.
  2.4 He will especially be near in death.
  2.5 If not cast off then what follows – eternal life.
    Psalm 71 9 not cast off
1. Praise the Lord who has brought us thus far and preserved life and profession.
2. Commit all to him. If he will not cast off, then all shall be right and well.
3. You that are younger prepare for old age, but do not reckon upon it.

[1] Newton wrote the text in Byrom shorthand.
[2] Psalm 143:2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
[3] Ecclesiastes 12 [whole chapter on old age… Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth…]
[4] 2 Samuel 19:34, 35 And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?
[5] Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.
[6] Isaiah 46:3 [4 intended? And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.]
[7] Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
[8] Under Satan’s hand Job lost all his possessions, together with his 7 sons and 3 daughters, – but, Job 42:10,12 …the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before… the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning


Princeton University, John Newton Diary, CO199
ms No. 35 Cowper & Newton Museum

Marylynn Rouse, 21/12/2016